The Dust Bowl“Can It Happen Again” Mike Sporcic National Wind Erosion Specialist USDA NRCS
Black Sunday April 14, 1935. The dust storm that turned day into night. Many believed the world was coming to an end. Dodge City, KS
Approaching dust storm at Powers Co., CO Storm lasted from 4:15 PM to 7:00 PM
Farmer Arthur Coble and sons walking in the face of the dust storm. April, 1936 “Fleeing a dust storm”
Garden City, KS at 5:15 PM (note the street lights photo 1) and compare to photo 2. Photo 2 was just 15 min. later after the dust blotted out the sun. Photo 2 Photo 1
Dust storm approaching Elkhart, KS May, 1937
The Dust Bowl and drought devastated some farm families in the early 1930’s, such as this 32 year old mother of seven. “Migrant Mother” 1936
But Today Things are Different, or Are They? Dallas 2/07 Before After
One More Dallas 2/07 Before After
Things are not so different! • This is just north of Big Springs, TX on the south edge of the Dust Bowl. Feb/07
Wind Erosion Continues • As recently as the spring of 1996 wind erosion severely damaged ag land throughout the Great Plains. • On Cropland, about 172 million acres are eroded by wind and water at twice the soil loss tolerance rate. • Wind erosion is about 40% of this loss, and can increase markedly in drought years.
Wind Erosion, the Problem • Wind erosion is the dominate problem on about 74 million acres and moderately severe on 5 million acres. • NRI data shows a 0.8 of a ton/ac improvement from 1982 to 1994 mostly from CRP.
Wind Takes the Best • Wind erosion removes the lighter, less dense soil constituents such as OM, clays, and silts. • It has been estimated that it causes annual yield reductions of 339,000 bu of Wheat and 543,000 bu of sorghum on 1.2 million acres of sandy soil in SW KS. Somewhat masked by technology. • It damages seedlings.
Wind Erosion Gets in the Air • Suspension becomes part of the atmospheric dust load. • It can cause health issues as PM-10 and PM 2.5. • NM has a non-attainment over Las Cruces. • It routinely causes Interstate 10 to be closed, hopefully before someone is killed. • Some states use EQIP to reduce sediment load in borrow ditches and on roads.
KS Rainfall 1895-2002 Dry Years and high eroson Dry Years and high erosion
New Mexico Rainfall 1895-2002 Dry Years
Major Things that Effect Wind Erosion • Crop Rotation, high residue crops vs low residue row crops. Alfalfa system erode less. • Tillage practices, Heavy tillage like plows vs No-till or non-inversion tillage like sweeps. • Surface Roughness, Ridging and Clodiness reduce erosion and trap moving soil particles. • Cover Crops, Used for cover when low residue crops are grown. • Amount of Grazing, Eastern NM systems have heavy grazing in them. • Annual Rainfall, dry cropland will blow on dry years, even with good mgt. • Timing of tillage, Land heavy tilled soon after harvest will erode more that delaying tillage closer to seeding time. • Irrigation, wet soil blows less.